upcoming trainings

Posted by pamthenomad on Jun. 27, 06 | 0 COMMENTS

The first training will happen this Thursday thru Saturday, the second training is the following Thursday thru Saturday. Each training is hosted by one village, and another village sends four individuals to the hosting village for the training. As the villages are within a 30 minute drive, we travel to and from the villages. During the lunch breaks the first I will also be doing some sampling that needs to happen, and surveys will occur this Sunday afternoon at two villages as well. My time will be full, but before it all I get the glories of market day on Wednesday.

oral rehydration salts

Posted by pamthenomad on Jun. 27, 06 | 1 COMMENT

It is amazing how much information is absorbed over travels in which either I or others
have been sick. This knowledge has served me incredibly well, but I
believe that a little bit more knowledge would be beneficial. So far
this trip one individual had a GI tract bacterial infection, and another
apparently has an ulcer. Both have been amazed by the glories of oral
rehydration salts (ORS).

In case you have never heard of ORS, let me explain what they are as
they have literally saved millions of lives around the world. When
people (this is particularly true of children), get diarrhea or are
vomiting, they loose massive amounts of water and electrolytes. Even if
you are drinking lots, you still have to somehow get the electrolytes.
Far too often people have ended up in the hospital or even died because
of the dehydration associated with an illness as opposed to the actual
illness.

Think about giving someone Gatorade (minus the flavoring) on speed. If
you are hydrated, it tastes like you are drinking salt water. If you are
truly dehydrated, it tastes like plain water, or might even taste sweet.
It is amazing how wonderfully our bodies were created that they crave
the things we need. Yesterday one student started out her litre of ORS
thinking it tasted just like water; the final third she did not want to
put down because of how salty it tasted.

I do not know where to find ORS in the USA, but they can be found in
nearly any clinic or pharmacy for mere pennies overseas. I highly
suggest you keep a packet or two in your first aid kit as dehydration
can and does happen anywhere. As I ask the ladies here every few days in
the beginning: are you peeing clear?

 

27 June 2006

Upcoming Trainings

The first training will happen this Thursday thru Saturday, the second
training is the following Thursday thru Saturday. Each training is
hosted by one village, and another village sends four individuals to the
hosting village for the training. As the villages are within a 30 minute
drive, we travel to and from the villages. During the lunch breaks the
first I will also be doing some sampling that needs to happen, and
surveys will occur this Sunday afternoon at two villages as well. My
time will be full, but before it all I get the glories of market day on
Wednesday.

I am beginning to think that I should create a ‘to do’ list for bits of training that I would be useful in the future. Top of that list would be some nursing or medical training. I have all of the first aid you get from lifeguard training as well as the nice little pile of other information that is absorbed over travels in which either I or others have been sick. This knowledge has served me incredibly well, but I believe that a little bit more knowledge would be beneficial. So far this trip one individual had a GI tract bacterial infection, and another apparently has an ulcer. Both have been amazed by the glories of oral rehydration salts (ORS).

In case you have never heard of ORS, let me explain what they are as they have literally saved millions of lives around the world. When people (this is particularly true of children), get diarrhea or are vomiting, they loose massive amounts of water and electrolytes. Even if you are drinking lots, you still have to somehow get the electrolytes. Far too often people have ended up in the hospital or even died because of the dehydration associated with an illness as opposed to the actual illness.

Think about giving someone Gatorade (minus the flavoring) on speed. If you are hydrated, it tastes like you are drinking salt water. If you are truly dehydrated, it tastes like plain water, or might even taste sweet. It is amazing how wonderfully our bodies were created that they crave
the things we need. Yesterday one student started out her litre of ORS thinking it tasted just like water; the final third she did not want toput down because of how salty it tasted.

I do not know where to find ORS in the USA, but they can be found in nearly any clinic or pharmacy for mere pennies overseas. I highly suggest you keep a packet or two in your first aid kit as dehydration can and does happen anywhere. As I ask the ladies here every few days in the beginning: are you peeing clear?

elle est fatigué.

Posted by pamthenomad on Jun. 22, 06 | 1 COMMENT

One of the houses close to mine in village was destroyed in the last year. The large mud bricks used to make most of the homes are tumbled on top of each other. The frame for the roof is there though slightly burnt, but the metal is gone.

A couple of nights ago, as I was walking by the fallen house with a friend, I finally asked what happened. I was wondering if there was a fire or a structural problem; maybe something completely logical once I knew.

The response to my question was simple and to the point: Elle est fatigué. (She was tired.) I wonder if we could ever use such a logical, simple, straight-forward response as the reason for fallen structures in the US of A.

laughable

Posted by pamthenomad on Jun. 22, 06 | 0 COMMENTS

This afternoon I was sitting on my bed sporting my zip-off pants minus the pants legs and my newly shaved legs (running water and a private bathroom and room at the hotel allow such luxuries). My elbow is rested on my knee when the sickie / recovering individual (hereafter refered to as SRI) points at my knee and says, “look!” I start looking for a spider, a bug, a rash–something that should not be there. Moments later SRI begins to laugh. While I am still trying to figure out what is going on, SRI says something to the effect of, “Your legs really are white.”

I try and explain to people what coming out of an Indiana winter and then wearing pants and short sleeves almost all the time in the African sun does to a body–a truely impressive farmer’s tan. The laughter lasted several minutes, and I am sure the laughter will be revisted the next time my legs are in public view.

update:

Posted by pamthenomad on Jun. 21, 06 | 1 COMMENT

The girl is doing better–she and Pam made it to the capital safely, and she received the medical attention she needed. Now she just needs to rest and get better….

prayer request

Posted by pamthenomad on Jun. 21, 06 | 0 COMMENTS

Pam is making a surprise trip to the capital today with one of the girls with her in the village. From what I understand, the girl has been sick for a few days now, and needs more medical attention than Pam can give her. Pray for safe travels within the country and the girl’s swift and complete recovery. Thanks.

happy father’s day! — 17 june

Posted by pamthenomad on Jun. 17, 06 | 2 COMMENTS

Just in case you have not had the chance to meet my dad, I think he is pretty cool. We share a love of the ocean and just about everything attached to it. He is wonderfully patient, and loves to listen to stories and the general noise associated with fun. He is supportive of all of my crazy endeavors. The list goes on, but you get the idea. Happy Father’s Day Daddy!

for GPS nerds — 17 june

Posted by pamthenomad on Jun. 17, 06 | 0 COMMENTS

In response to the request for the coordinates of my location, here is location of the house that I live in while in village. (Although you cannot zoom up too close, you can check out Google Earth to see the location.)

N 7º 54.847’
E 2º 16.459’

There has been conversation going on amongst some friends as to how they have used GPSs. My current use speaks to the academic / research nature of my work. I take coordinates of every well I sample so that I can do spatial analysis on it, find it in the future, and then do analysis on what holes we need to fill in on the next sampling trip. As such, I have become quite adept at imagining the shape of Benin superimposed on top of a graph filled with little dots indicating where I sampled.

cheerleading — 14 june

Posted by pamthenomad on Jun. 15, 06 | 1 COMMENT

Last year my dad said it would be interesting to hear the students, along with me, tell their sides of the stories that I told—he wondered if they would be recognizable as the same stories. This year one of the students has declared me a good cheerleader, and is thinking about getting me a cheerleading outfit for Christmas. I’m not thrilled about that concept, but am fairly confident that I could convince her to go camping in the fall, although her friends will request pictures to prove it. Here are a few samples:

“You can eat that.”
“Wearing your hat will preserve your skin.”
“I know you can clean your plate.”
“The mouse is more scared of you than you are of it.”
“Try ____ angle at the meeting.”
“You can’t avoid using the latrine. It is not that bad.”
“How much have you drunk today?”
“She finished her plate—I’m sure you can.”

evolution of a shower room — 14 june

Posted by pamthenomad on Jun. 15, 06 | 2 COMMENTS

Although I am normally trying to conserve batteries, I need to use part of my computer battery to test the solar power system I am trying to set up, so I thought I would share a bit about the evolution of my shower ‘room’.

My shower room is found in the area behind my house, next to the kitchen. It has three and a half walls that go up to about mid-neck level on me. My first summer here and part of the second summer, the fourth wall was completed by placing a wrap (saraong / sulu / piece of fabric) over the piece of wood that balanced on top of the wall. The bucket that had the water necessary for the shower was then placed against wrap on the side where I stood while partaking of the shower. This system generally worked well to hide my white body.

I say generally because there were several times that this system failed me when we had slightly stronger winds. One night in particular it must have been after 9pm, and although there was little moon, the stars were brilliant. Two girls that live in the other half of the ‘duplex’ were sitting outside. The first time that the piece of wood fell (and with it, the wrap) and I scrambled to keep myself decent and replace the wood (and the wrap), I thought I heard the girls trying to contain laughter. It would be too rude to laugh aloud about the situation. The second time, they had to try a little harder to keep it in. An unprecedented third time, I gave up with a loud: “Impossible c’est soire!” and there was no containing the laughter of all three of us.

Shortly after that I had the brilliant idea of buying some nails and using some of my rope to make a line that, while the wrap could still blow in the wind, would not be precariously balanced, and therefore would not fall. Sitting on top of the wall I was reminded why apparently simple tasks take so much longer than anticipated here: In places, the wall wanted to crumble, and in other places it was impenetrable. Perseverance paid off though, and I had my line.

This year, there was yet another brilliant idea from my colleague, IA: place a straw mat on top of the line. Although it moves some in the breeze, it is a significant improvement over using the wrap. Besides, I now have one less thing to carry to the shower room.

About to sign off, I realize that I might need to clarify for some readers why my Beninoise friends had not already made such modifications. You see, a wrap moving, or even nonexistent, is only an issue when we have a full moon and there is no need for flashlight outside at all. Otherwise, their bodies absorb the light and they disappear into the night. If you want to understand how well a white body reflects the light, look at a white t-shirt in a fairly dark room, or just look up at the moon.

bees — 12 june

Posted by pamthenomad on Jun. 12, 06 | 1 COMMENT

About 30 minutes before coming home from mass yesterday, a baobab tree fell down near my house (these are much smaller than their cousins in East Africa). Praise be to God that it did not hit a house, or the children who had been playing there only five minutes before. However, the reason that it fell—its innards largely hollowed out–made for a less enjoyable afternoon. It was full of bees. We were told to stay away for a while, then spent much of the afternoon inside, windows shut. Men worked to cut it open to get the honey last night (supposedly the bees are more tranquil at night), and were to burn the part with the bees. So, our windows were shut last night. Thankfully, it was a cool night, although sleeping in my underwear was justified. Seems they never got to the burning process though, so we might have a repeat of that tonight. I have no desire to be in much pain and swell up like a pumpkin because angry bees decide to rest on my mosquito net or in my house.

surprise hairstyle–10 june

Posted by pamthenomad on Jun. 11, 06 | 1 COMMENT

Today I made my first ‘grand promenade’ of the village; the primary objective of which was to greet the people I had not yet greeted, of which there were many (and I am sure that many still remain). During this walk I managed to eat an ear of corn off the fire, play a mancala-like game (I am horrible, but the attempt was appreciated I think), and, while holding a practical new-born child (Ricardo), I ended up getting my hair done. It is in a number of little braids against the scalp, a style I rather enjoy. The only issue with this is that I always forget the pain involved in having such things done. It is probably a good thing that I forget between each such occurrence as it is always a big hit (besides, I appreciate having to do nothing with my hair for a few days). Each culture has its own practices, but it is amazing what we do for that thing called beauty.

cotonou

Posted by pamthenomad on Jun. 08, 06 | 0 COMMENTS

I returned to Cotonou two days ago in order to pick up a few supplies, collect two students, and to work on getting the one year visa and bank account for the one person in our group staying in Benin. Everything will happen in its own time concerning those things, so I will continue to roll with the punches.

As is often the case, the long term visa might be impossible, requiring CR to return to the capital every three months. There are definitely worse things in life. We are definitely closer to the possibility of getting her a bank account so that we can transfer money here, so that is a good ting.

Besides those things, I tracked down white board markers, bought a car battery, found a map of Benin (on accident, but I shall not complain), bought the chauffeur a mattress for the village, gathered some food supplies, and made several trips to the university. I shall not complain about productivity these two days. This afternoon should be filled with some printing, getting a pile of photocopying done, and another trip out to the university. Anyway…here are a few comments on some of the purchases of this trip to the capital.

-I found this amazing white board that is really thin and rolls up into a tube. It could easily be carried on the plane, and will be wonderful for my trainings. But, I did not bother to buy white board markers as they were readily available last year. However, someone must have gone through and bought out all of my favorite stationary stores in the capital this year—these are normally the most well stocked locations. But, perseverance pays off, and I have some in hand.

-The car battery. The education project requires electricity to charge computers on a regular basis. If you have ever worked with small generators in many developing countries, you know that they can be extremely unreliable. I wanted to shoot the one that we bought last year. So, we have a collapsible solar panel this year that we will use to charge the car battery during the day. Then, if all works out, we can charge the necessary computers by night. I’ll let you know how this does or does not work. But, God is gracious, and the chauffeur to me to a place that had batteries that you do not have to do maintenance on. When I wanted one for something else last year, a person I work with had no clue such things even existed. Yet one more point for the chauffeur!

-PG Tips. Every year I buy tea here—normally I can find Twinnings (sp?), which makes me much happier than Liptons. However, this year I stumbled across PGTips for even less—and it is good stuff! Thank you Fischers for introducing me to your favorite tea!

I think that is about it for now. We head back to village tomorrow morning, so my outdoor showers are about to begin J

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